Tin Horses and Paper Planes

Chapter 14 - Under Pressure







Wyatt gazed down at the paper plane in his lap, toying with the wings and presiding over an internal debate that seemed unwilling to reach a resolution.

Just open it. He folded back the wings, squinting at the tight, slanted scrawls of faded ink, hoping for something - a word, a sign. Stop playing with the damn thing and open it. It could be important.

That seemed the easy answer, and yet when he came to dismantle the little plane, his stomach twisted into a tight knot and refused to relax. It belongs to Glitch. It's personal.

"It's for his own good," he retorted, and was dismayed at how harsh his voice sounded in the quiet room. It's for his own good. What an innocent, easy, treacherous little phrase. We're taking the lock off your door, Glitch. It's for your own good. We're gonna hand you over to some money-grubbing sawbones. It's for your own good. In his mind's ear, he heard crows squabbling as they plucked at decaying scraps of straw. Bit by bit, piece by piece, we're stripping away your dignity, your independence. But that's okay, because it's for your own good.

"No," he murmured, watching Glitch's eyes moving restlessly beneath pale lids. "You've as much right to your privacy as any man." Ah, Glitch. I wish you could tell me what's wrong.

"Funny, that, 'cos the word is you broke into the last doctor's room to get a look at his telex messages."

Wyatt's head snapped up so fast he felt the tendons in his neck creak in protest. Vincent, Oxley's assistant, had somehow managed to manoeuvre himself into the room without making a sound.

"People talk too damn much around here, don't they?" He scowled. "And knock, next time. That silent act is creepy as hell." He felt the paper crumple between his hands, and forced himself to relax. "Sorry. I shouldn't have snapped. You just startled me."

Vincent gave him an understanding smile, which took a while on account of the amount of face there was to move. "That's all right. The Doc's always saying I should've had a career in housebreaking." Not unless they start making houses with much bigger windows, Wyatt thought, but he kept it to himself. "Fing is, Mister Cain, back in the Realm, keeping quiet's a skill you want to learn. If you're big and you're quiet, people fink you're slow in the head. Then they talk about stuff they shouldn't, an' I remember it all, me."

And sometimes, they probably mistake you for things. Big pieces of furniture. Walls. Wyatt glanced over to see if their voices had disturbed Glitch, but he slept more deeply these days, and when he woke, Wyatt was never entirely sure when he thought he was, never mind where.

"And one of those things they were talking about was me going into Krantz's room?" Vincent nodded. "Well, I won't deny it. And if the queen wanted to sling me out because of it, I wouldn't have a leg to stand on. But I'm not about to apologise for it, either. Doctor Oxley not with you?"

"Coming along Mister Cain, coming right along. He had to stop by Doctor Krantz's room to have a look at his records." The big man gave Wyatt a grin. "Don't worry - they let him in the regular way. He just sent me on ahead to see if Mister Goldstraw was awake yet." He peered over at the bed, and his grin faded. "Great gods and silver slippers, there's nothing to him, is there?"

"He isn't eating," Wyatt looked at him bleakly. "It's a fight to get a couple of spoonfuls of food into him. You'd better let Doctor Oxley know I haven't had a chance to tell G- to tell Ambrose about him. And..." he looked down at the paper plane, and back to Glitch, and sighed "...you'd better give him this. I don't know if it'll help, but I think it's something medical." Vincent took it from him, holding it delicately between thick fingers.

"I'll take it to him now. You sit tight, Mister Cain. He won't be long." Vincent took one last look at Glitch, then departed as silently as he had arrived. Wyatt watched him go; it was like witnessing hugely-accelerated glacial drift.

The door clicked shut. Wyatt sat for a minute, staring at nothing and waiting for his moral compass to stop spinning. It's in the doctor's hands, now, he thought, and the memory of the golden birds poised proudly on the front of Oxley's waistcoat somehow made him feel a little better. Yellow to call the gods. That's right, isn't it, Glitch? Yellow to call them, and songs to keep them here. The words were still clear in his mind, and the feeling of a shivering body pressing close to him, warming him when he was too cold even to shiver any more. The rest of the dream (and it had been a dream, only a dream, piecing together scraps of fear and guilt, and words half-heard through a numbing torpor) was beginning to fade. Glitch had called it superstition, but he'd sung to Wyatt anyway - sung and recited, and babbled snatches of verse interspersed with wandering Glitch-isms. And here we are again, and I don't have a song for you. Except...

Hope is the thing with feathers

"...'that perches in the soul and sings the tune without the words, and never stops at all'," Wyatt finished and shivered, though it wasn't cold. "I think we have to trust this guy, Glitch and let hope do the singing for us."

"Is he gone?"

Wyatt didn't answer. Glitch's thoughts, as he brushed up against the waking world, swam in easily muddied-waters and wading into them without preamble was the best way to confuse him. Instead, he sat forward in his chair and waited for the zipperhead to speak again.

"He'll be back, of course. And not alone - her Longcoats travel in packs. It'll have to be tonight." There was an expectant silence; while Glitch was perfectly capable of supplying all the parts of a conversation by himself, Wyatt had the impression that, this time, a response was needed. He cleared his throat.

"Are you sure?" That was probably safe enough.

Glitch turned towards him, his eyes almost closed, so that the merest suggestion of a gleam was visible beneath his lashes. "You saw it... a decree, as though she had any right. Bound in the seal of the New Order. The State." He sighed. "It must be tonight, or never."

The State. Wyatt felt the hairs on the back of his neck prickle. Glitch somehow managed to sound indignant and bewildered, and Wyatt had a sudden vision of him, neat and slender in his palace livery, his hair dishevelled from where he'd run an anxious hand through it. "What are you going to do?" he asked, even though he already knew the answer. He'd had a number of these conversations, odd little islands of lucidity anchored in a past that belonged to Ambrose, a man that Wyatt hardly knew. But I'm learning.

"Burn it all. We can't leave anything for her to find." His hands twitched on the counterpane, fingers spreading helplessly. "Even if we try to build it, sooner or later she'd just sweep in and claim it for herself. What else can I do? It's a four-apple dilemma..." For a moment, Glitch opened his eyes, meeting Wyatt's gaze with quiet regret. "I probably won't see you again. But we had fun, didn't we?" And the question, incongruous though it seemed, sounded so earnest that all that Wyatt could do was catch Glitch's hand in his own and squeeze it gently.

"We did. We had -"

"Mr Cain? I did knock..." Oxley was standing at the archway, a sheaf of papers tucked under his arm in a natty green binder with the Royal Hospital insignia. "If this is a bad time, I can wait in the ante-room?" He left the suggestion hanging and Wyatt turned back to Glitch, looking for the best way to introduce the doctor without actually using the word 'doctor'. Glitch, however, had drifted back into sleep, and Wyatt let go of his hand, curling his fingers around the warmth they had briefly created between them.

"You might as well come in - he's asleep, or something like it."

The doctor left his papers on the table beneath the window and joined Wyatt at the bedside. "I had a bit of a chat with your man, Krantz -"

Wyatt cut him off. "He isn't my man. I'm not sure that he's a man at all. I've seen things like him hanging around battlefields, waiting for the feast," he added, darkly.

"My mistake," Oxley soothed. "In any case, the man's a dolt, and if the Queen - Fates-preserve-her - doesn't have him kicked out of the School so hard that he bounces when he lands, I'll eat my stethoscope. But, to continue, I talked with him this morning and, in spite of a certain amount of posturing and manoeuvring on his part, I did manage to gather some basic information and gain access to the test results he's collated thus far."

"Let me guess. He's been treading water for two weeks, and you're gonna have to do everything all over again." Wyatt pinched the bridge of his nose, fighting off a headache. Oxley shook his head.

"Not at all. Clumsy though his investigation has been, it has given me somewhere to start. Don't lose heart, Mr Cain...or may I call you Wyatt?"

Wyatt nodded, unexpectedly comforted by Oxley's demeanour. "You can call me Daphne if you can help Ambrose." The doctor snorted softly.

"Let's not get ahead of ourselves. There are some observations on Krantz's notes that I'd like to verify with you. Would you say that Ambrose's vision has been affected since he became unwell?"

Unwell. It seemed such a mild word, when used to describe the dwindling figure in the bed. You hear that, Glitch? You're not ill, you're just 'unwell'. That's an improvement, isn't it? "I...yeah - the first time he had-" he paused, correcting himself with a policeman's conscientiousness "-the first time I saw him have a seizure, he said that it was dark. But it was broad daylight. And later, when he woke up, the light hurt his eyes. We keep it dim in here all the time, now."

Oxley watched him attentively, fingers interlaced across his chest. "So his eyes are always oversensitive, now? Or has the pattern repeated itself - a change in his vision before an episode, then an increase in sensitivity afterwards?"

"There's a pattern." He'd said as much to Krantz, for all the good that it had done. "Sometimes we can tell when he's about to have another one, because everything starts going dark on him. Scares him silly." Me, too. "Now I think about it, the first night I got here, I found him wandering around, very confused, and when I got him back to his room, he'd got every lamp turned up as bright as it'd go, the ones in here and out in his little parlour, too."

"That's very helpful." Oxley made no move to write anything down, however. Instead, he continued to regard Wyatt with frank interest. "What about his speech - his use of language? Krantz mentions odd speech patterns, that Ambrose sometimes repeats himself, but doesn't seem aware of this."

"Yeah. I told him about that when we first met, though. Pally-something."

"Palilalia." The doctor nodded. "And this started happening with the seizures?"

"No, that's just Glitch. Ambrose." Wyatt smiled at Oxley's nonplussed expression. "Glitch is his nickname, because of the way his brain works." And it was curious, but he didn't feel the same defensive pang telling this to Oxley as he had when explaining it to Krantz. "His speech is fine, except if he wakes up just after a seizure, and then it's slurred. But his memory is bad - real bad. He forgot a lot of things after he was headcased, but since he's been...unwell, he's forgotten a lot more. He remembers my name, but I don't think he really knows who I am, and the same goes for everyone else here."

With a small sigh of effort, Oxley got out of his chair and crossed to the window to collect his papers. "Memory is a tricky thing. Krantz seems to have dismissed it as part of Ambrose's zipperhead condition, but if the nature of his forgetfulness has altered, I'd say otherwise. I can only speculate at this stage as to whether it's organic - a result of injury, or simply his brain's way of protecting itself. Perhaps..." his eyes flitted towards the bed. "Ah...perhaps you'll introduce me..."

Wyatt followed the doctor's gaze. "Oh, hey...you're awake." He edged his chair closer to Glitch's bedside. "How are you feeling?"

Glitch blinked, watching Wyatt with a look of bleary relief. "Thought I heard voices. Nodded off again, didn't I?" He tried to sit up, then grimaced and lay still, turning his face towards the pillow for a moment so that his expression was hidden. "Tell me things, okay? Draw me a picture. We-we're at a palace. The palace. And...and...Cain. Wyatt Cain..." he was struggling, trying to pin down something familiar. "Talk to me, Cain..."

"Yeah..." Wyatt put a hand on his arm, offering him something to focus on. "Yeah, you've been pretty sleepy today, on and off. We're at the palace, it's almost lunchtime, and this is Ralph Oxley. He's an old friend of Ahamo's..."

"Ohh...visitors. I'm not really dressed for social calls..." Glitch managed, this time, to shuffle into a half-sitting position, the pillows rucked up behind him in a crumpled mass. "Hi...the name's...I'm..." He blinked, mouth ajar, with nothing but empty air where a name should be. "I'm... pleased to meet you," he finished, after an awkward pause. "You know Ahamo? That's great!" Another pause, then he shot a fretful look at Wyatt that spoke volumes. "Who's Ahamo?"

Oxley smiled warmly. "Very pleased to meet you, Mr Goldstraw. I hope you're not too tired to have visitors at the moment?"

Glitch shook his head tentatively, then looked at Wyatt again for reassurance.

"You're doing well, all things considered." Wyatt smiled at him, every ounce of discipline bent on hiding his worry. He settled back into the chair, outwardly relaxed. "Ralph's just gonna sit quietly with us for a while, if that's okay with you? ...but you never told me how you're feeling. How's your head?"

"Mm... it's okay." He shut his eyes for a moment, and a tear slid stealthily down his cheek. "It...i-it..." He faltered, took a deep breath, then another, and continued carefully, "Sometimes it aches... did you say it was lunchtime? I slept late... you shoulda got me up!"

"I thought you needed your sleep." Wyatt noted the tear and glanced briefly across at the doctor to see if he was close enough to spot it. "You had a rough night. And it doesn't matter if you slept late." I could be wrong, but I don't think he remembers this morning at all.

Glitch laughed, the sound a little wild. "I wasn't meant to be anywhere, right? Is it sunny outside, Cain? What's it like out there? Are we somewhere with trees?"

"You've got nowhere to be today, but right here. And all that's on the agenda is rest. It's quite cloudy outside, a little chilly. We're at the winter palace, near the lake. Remember the frozen lake?" It was hard to remain cheerful, but Wyatt was becoming an old hand at this, now. "It's not frozen right now, and there are trees down by the waterside..."

He watched Glitch process this information, imagined him in an endless hall filled with filing cabinets that stretched from floor to ceiling. A single drawer was open, sparsely filled with files marked in his childlike printing:

- tHIs яoOm -

- cAiи -

- mY HeaD huRtƧ -

The third file was by far the thickest. And all the other drawers are locked. Wyatt sent a prayer to any benevolent deities that might be listening. Locked, please the Fates, only locked. Not empty.

Glitch looked towards the shaded window as if trying to picture the clouded sky, the tree-lined lake. "I don't remember. I don't remember." He hung his head, defeated, then moaned quietly and sat up straight - the pain had crescendoed for a moment, Wyatt saw it in every line of his ashen face. "Nnh... not again..?" If it was a plea, it wasn't addressed to anyone but himself.

Oxley glanced towards Wyatt sharply, questioning.

As far as Wyatt was concerned, there was nobody else in the room at that moment. "What's happening, Glitch? Talk to me..."

"I'm okay... I-I-I-I'm..." Glitch licked his lips and put his hand out to Wyatt, trying to reassure him, his other hand clamped to the back of his head as though he'd just been struck. "It'll stop in a minute, I-I'm sure. Just wait a minute. Just. Just wait.. just wait a minute... just wait..." his expression flickered to blankness, then back to pained.

Wyatt was already on his feet, moving pillows and helping Glitch to lie on his side. "Batten down the hatches, doc. This is how it happens. Okay, Glitch. It's okay. Just try and lie quiet and maybe it'll pass. It's okay..." He was aware of Oxley moving around the bed, pulling the sheets out from under the mattress, and tucking bolsters beneath them.

"They're less likely to get knocked off this way," he said, noticing Wyatt's questioning glance. "Padded bed rails would be better, but this should keep him from falling, at least."

Wyatt nodded curtly, but his attention was elsewhere. Glitch's apprehensive expression had been swept away by the seizure. Instead he stared, eyes wide and glazed, his mouth working, grimacing, while he struggled against his own rebelling muscles. It didn't matter that Wyatt had seen this all before. This time, as every time before, his heart clenched; his skin grew clammy. What if it doesn't stop this time? What if he bites his tongue? That had happened, a few days before, and the sudden spill of bloody froth had added a new layer to Wyatt's mounting anxiety.

"All right. You're doing fine, Wyatt. Try not to let him roll onto his back, and keep an eye on his breathing. I'll be right here, but I need to get my bag from the next room." Oxley put a hand on his shoulder, then he was gone.

A minute passed. Another. Or perhaps it was the same minute, recycled; time collapsed in on itself during the seizures so that there was only an awful, unchanging now, and only once it was over was it possible to look back and see that it hadn't been long at all. Wyatt sat on the edge of the bed, his hand against Glitch's back.

"Come on, Glitch. It's okay. Come on, sweetheart. Just breathe." Oxley was behind him, and Wyatt didn't care. All that mattered was this: his hand, damp with his own sweat and with Glitch's, feeling muscles bunch and shudder beneath his palm. A febrile heat bleeding through the thin cotton of Glitch's nightshirt. The all-too-infrequent gasps that snatched at the air. It was a cruel kind of intimacy and it made Wyatt wonder how Glitch had felt, pressed against his own insensate body in Demilo's wagon.

"All right - I think it's almost over. Wyatt?" The doctor had opened his bag and was taking out an instrument Wyatt recognised vaguely as some sort of pressure gauge. "Wyatt," Oxley repeated, gently, "I need to carry out some observations now, before Ambrose recovers any further. Do you know which side of his brain was removed?"

The question, gruesome as it was, gave Wyatt something practical to focus on. As Oxley had noted, Glitch's tremors were subsiding, diminishing to sporadic twitches - the last, sullen bursts of thunder in a storm that was nearly spent.

"The left." He answered without hesitation; he'd seen the thing himself, after all. He watched the doctor fiddle with the gauge. I guess it's a good thing Glitch is always drowsy after the seizures. Last thing he needs to see is another doctor hovering over him with more gadgets.

"That's good - we'll keep him on his right side, then. His blood pressure is rather high, though, and that really ought to be coming back down to his normal range, now. Tell me, has Ambrose suffered any head injuries?" Wyatt stared at him, and his incredulous look must have registered, because Oxley smiled apologetically. "Other than the obvious, that is. Do you know if he might have struck his head on something, or received a blow recently?"

"Can't help you there, doc. I only got here just when things started going bad. Before that, I hadn't seen him for a year." He saw Oxley delve in his pocket for his watch, seeking Glitch's pulse with his other hand, and held his tongue until the doctor looked up, lips pressed together thoughtfully. "Is it okay?"

"Also high. He's working very hard, for an unconscious man." Oxley snapped his watch shut. "I'm going to give him five minutes to allow things to calm down, and we'll see if there's any change. Meanwhile, perhaps you can tell me why Vincent presented me with a paper aeroplane as I was on my way here?"

The plane - he'd almost forgotten! Wyatt finished heaping pillows behind Glitch so that he couldn't turn over, and sat down on the edge of the bed, ready to respond if the zipperhead showed any sign of waking. "It was in Ambrose's photograph album. I haven't looked at it, but there's something medical written on it, and I thought it could be important. But not so important that you wanted to share it with Krantz something piped up smugly inside his head. Shut up, he told it, and looked expectantly at Oxley, who was unfolding the page.

"Let's see..." The doctor was silent for a minute, his eyes flitting swiftly down the paper. Wyatt looked on impatiently, willing him to finish, but his hopes were soon dashed; Oxley looked up and shook his head. "Alas, while a fascinating insight into his past, I don't think it has a bearing on Ambrose's current condition - it's dated more than thirty years ago. Still, I've never encountered a patient with documented synesthesia before - has he ever mentioned this to you?"

"I'll be honest with you, doc - back when I knew him, before this all started, I didn't pay a lot of attention to what he said." Wyatt found himself smiling in spite of his worry. "It took me a while to realise there was some sense in all the babble. Even if he'd told me about this other thing, I might have missed it. What did you call it?"

"Synesthesia - a curious facility of certain minds to associate particular senses or perceptions with unconnected stimuli. Or, in simpler terms, Ambrose may hear a sound and describe it as a colour or assign personalities to numbers, and so on. No-one knows exactly how it works or why some people are synesthetic and some aren't; I'm sure it seems entirely natural to... Wyatt? Is something wrong?"

All the colours... "You just reminded me of something. You asked about head injuries - would it have to be recent?" Wyatt stared into the past. They'd been heading for the place where they'd switched their clothes for Longcoat uniforms, the Sunseeder's warning klaxons fading to a distant, unimportant grumble of sound. Glitch had been burbling vaguely about colours, and Wyatt had made him sit down for a few minutes, because... "Because he got a hell of a whack on the head with a wrench, about fourteen months ago."

Oxley was trying to fold the paper back into its former shape. Now he laid it aside so that the paper could follow its own stealthy, ticking mechanics and looked at Wyatt, a bloodhound catching the first scent of its prey, nosing at the trace. Soon, perhaps, there would be the chase, the baying pursuit, but for now the doctor was still. Then he put a hand to the back of his head, turning it a little so that Cain could see where he was pointing.

"Back here? Below the place where the zipper begins?"

Wyatt nodded.

"Did he lose consciousness? Was there bleeding?"

"No blood. It's okay... sometimes it aches..." He'd offered to take a look, and Glitch had nodded, carefully, bowing his head like a supplicant so that Wyatt could part his matted curls and examine the bruise that was spreading to form a shadowy skull-cap.

"He had a bruise there, and he was glitchier than usual for a couple of minutes. He said he could see colours, or butterflies, or something - he wasn't making a lot of sense." Wyatt felt a dull rush of blood darken his cheeks. How could I have forgotten? "Then... he seemed to snap out of it, and after that he was back to normal. Normal for him, I mean." And then we were so busy trying to save the world that I didn't think to see if he was okay. As excuses went, it was a damn good one, right up there with I was distracted, on account of being on fire at the time and I didn't think you'd want it after the Papay Runner ate it, but he still felt guilty. Perhaps Oxley saw something in his expression, because he leaned over and patted Wyatt companionably on the forearm.

"There's nothing visible there now, so I'm not surprised that you didn't bring this up before. Head injuries and problems with the brain itself can creep up silently. And it may be unrelated -"

"But you don't think so," Wyatt cut in. Oxley had a gleam in his eyes quite at odds with his placid manner. "You think there's something there."

"I won't commit to anything until I've investigated further, Wyatt. The human brain is far too complex to withstand uninformed pontification and wild shots in the dark." The doctor took out his watch and flipped it open. "But I do have a theory. Let me check his vitals again, and then I want to try something that might help, at least in the short term, and may confirm my suspicions."

Wyatt clasped his hands together, fighting the urge to drum his fingers on the headboard. Oxley's eyes were fixed on the dial of his watch and his face might as well have been one of the portraits in the Long Gallery for all that it was giving away. The watch disappeared back into a pocket at last, only to be replaced by a neat little torch with an eyepiece at one end.

"I hope you aren't thinking of using that on Ambrose." There was a warning tone in Wyatt's voice, and, much as he was growing to like the doctor, he made no effort to suppress it.

"He's unconscious. I have to look at the very back of his eye, and this is the only way that I can do it," Oxley said, reasonably, and lowered himself creakily onto one knee, leaning forward to prise Glitch's left eye open. "It will take just a moment, and he won't feel a thing, I promise you." In fact, he'd barely finished speaking before he straightened, using the edge of the bed to push himself to his feet. "All right. I need you to do something for me, Wyatt, and it may turn out to be somewhat unpleasant."

Another of those un-words. Not 'terrible', just not 'pleasant'.

You know your trouble, Cain? You're always fighting the tide - always making things 'good' or 'bad', 'yes' or 'no'...

Okay, so maybe now's a bad time for absolutes. "Just tell me what I have to do."

Oxley was already producing more things from his bag: a sheaf of folded cloths in waxed paper wrappings, a box of stubby glass tubes with steel collars, a package of thin rubber gloves; he handed a pair of the gloves to Wyatt and pulled a pair on himself, and Wyatt noticed the ridge of his wedding ring where it distorted the rubber. Strange, the things you notice when you're under pressure.

Aloud he said "You don't have your white coat on - aren't you worried about getting your waistcoat messed up?"

"The waistcoat will wash. The gloves are to reduce the chances of infection." The doctor nodded towards the bed. "In a moment, I'm going to ask you to open Ambrose's zipper a fraction. I don't know what to expect, but I don't wish to compound his problems with a secondary infection."

Wyatt looked down at Glitch, who hadn't moved since the seizure. "Whatever you say, Doc. We're in your hands, now." Just don't wake up, Glitch. Not now. Not yet.

Oxley uncapped one of the glass tubes and, taking a cloth in his free hand, nodded to Wyatt. "Whenever you're ready, Wyatt. Very carefully, and only a little. And if I tell you to get out of the way, you move as if the hounds of Hades are after you."

His jaw set firm, Wyatt took hold of the metal tag of the zipper and began to ease it along its track. Within seconds, his gloved hands were soaked, and a the sheet beneath Glitch's head began to darken with a spreading stain.


"I see it. Cerebrospinal fluid. That's normal, but..." Oxley raised his head and sniffed. Wyatt did the same, then made a face. The spilled fluid had a sour, ripe smell, like a harvest pumpkin spoiling gently in the Autumn sun. "That smell is not." He gestured briskly. "I'll take over, there."

"You don't want me to close it?" Wyatt was already moving aside as he asked, mindful of Oxley's warning.

"No. Not yet, at least. Ambrose has an unusually high blood pressure, his pulse is too fast, and there's clear signs of swelling at the base of his optic disc. That, coupled with that," the doctor inclined his head towards the leaking fluid, which he was directing into the open vial, "tells me that my immediate priority is to let some of this stagnant fluid out. And yours is to go and find Vincent."

"I thought you'd want to test that stuff you've collected." Wyatt gazed at the contents of the small glass tube, caught halfway between fascination and repulsion. It looked just like water, streaked here and there with pink.

Now Oxley capped the vial, holding the pad of cloth against the back of Glitch's head. All at once, the avuncular manner was gone, and Wyatt could hear the bloodhound howl.

"Change of plan. Find Vincent - if he's not in the gallery, he'll be in Krantz's room salvaging equipment. Tell him I want to be ready to operate within the hour."

Operate? "It's that urgent?" Already making his way to the door, Wyatt glanced back. His instinct was to trust Oxley, but he had to be sure - he had to see certainty in the doctor's eyes. Glitch deserved nothing less.

"Wyatt, the only reason I say 'within the hour' is that our magic-wielding hosts can't make it possible to operate yesterday."

That was enough. Wyatt left at a run.


Chapter 13 ~~~~~~~~ Back to Tin Man ~~~~~~~~ Chapter 15



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